New Mexico Ghost Towns: History & Abandoned Cities

A sheer contrast to mountain ranges, desert wilderness, and adobe-made houses are the abandoned cities everywhere in New Mexico. These so-called “New Mexico ghost towns” were once thriving mining towns, but have long since empty for a variety of reasons. Tragic accidents, shifts in economic priorities, and sinister events make them intriguing places to visit today. In addition to their curious histories, these New Mexico ghost towns are also favored by photographers and history buffs. Here are some locations worth checking out.

New Mexico Ghost Towns


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Store Ruins in Mogollon

Located within the Gila National Forest is the isolated town of Mogollon. It was once home to thousands of miners hoping to strike gold. And for decades, it was one of the most popular towns to set foot in. Mogollon built a reputation as one of the most open towns in the West, attracting not only transient miners and workers, but also gamblers and petty criminals. It was rumored that Robert Leroy Parker, aka Butch Cassidy, had stayed there.

Nowadays, visitors to Mogollon can explore what was left of this once thriving mining town. Listed under the National Register of Historic Places, it has a local history museum that documents the lives of miners and its residents. There’s also an art gallery, an antique store and a small inn that welcomes weekenders. A mile and a quarter trail path to Graveyard Gulch leads to the old Mogollon graveyard. Along the way, you’ll come across ruins of abandoned buildings and rusting mining machineries.


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Guide at Shakespeare

It took a long time before this New Mexico ghost town finally found its identity. The town was first named Mexican Springs before residents decided to name it Grant, after the 17th President. Shortly after the discovery of silver mining nearby, the town was renamed Ralston, after William C. Raston, the California-born businessman who founded the New Mexico Mining Company. Finally, in 1870, after the success of the Shakespeare Mining Company, the town’s name was changed again; and it remained Shakespeare since.

In addition to its identity crisis, what makes Shakespeare one of the most intriguing New Mexico ghost towns to visit is its reputation as the town of outlaws. Gruesome crimes and the lack of law and order led to the rise of a few infamous western vigilantes. Shakespeare is a popular daytrip stop for travelers staying in Tucson. The town, now a privately owned ranch, offers weekend tours of several buildings within.


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Cemetery at Dawson

If there was a town that is true to its reputation as a ghost town, it might just be Dawson. Set just northeast of Taos, New Mexico, Dawson certifiably gives many visitors the chills especially after learning about its history. In a span of 10 years, two tragic events that killed almost 400 struck the town. There isn’t much to see in Dawson these days except for the cemetery bearing hundreds of white crosses that served as a reminder of the people who once resided there.

About Iris A


Born in the Philippines, but grew up in Texas, Iris has been traveling and writing about her experiences for well over a decade. Her work has been published on well-known travel sites like Hipmunk (#hipmunkcitylove) and D Magazine Online Travel Club. She has been all over Europe, the US, and has recently started exploring Latin America. She loves trying local cuisine and visiting UNESCO deemed World Heritage sites. Her favourite city is New York, with London, following a close 2nd. You can follow her on Twitter @sundeeiris or through her travel blog, Traveling With Iris.

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